A/N - It will come as no surprise to those readers who know my other stories (over at Ashwinder), that Severus Snape is my favourite of all JKR's characters. Well, Sybill Trelawney is my second. I couldn't bring myself to pair these two romantically, but this little muse of Sybill's has been drifting around in my head for sometime. I have given it the title I have because the chapter Seen and Unforeseen in OotP happens to be my favourite chapter of everything JKR has written so far.
SEEN AND UNFORESEEN
I have watched him.
Not with my naked eye, you understand. The times I have been in his actual physical presence amount to no more than six. I can give you the dates, times and circumstances of each one. I can recount, word for word, any sentence that left his lips, recall his expressions, the language of his eyes, the scowl of his mouth.
I hoard the memories as I would rubies.
No. I do not watch him with my naked eye. I watch him with my inner eye.
Oh, don’t think I am unaware of my reputation within the school. I am the mad one, the one they make fun of. The one who is too fond of her sherry. Very few take my lessons seriously, and I cannot blame them.
I am a fraud, you see.
The sight rarely comes to me.
When I was a child, my grandmother used to tell me I had the sight, that one day I would grow up to be a famous seer, just like her own grandmother. She could tell, she said, that I had psychic powers, and would one day rise to greatness, delivering important prophecies that would help in the downfall of the Evil One.
Alas, I have had no such messages to deliver.
Please don’t believe, however, that I have no talent in this field at all. I spent three years before my employment at Hogwarts in a Muggle travelling fair. I was Madam Mystique, the Fortune Teller. Cross my palm with silver, and I shall part the mists of the crystal ball, and tell what lies ahead.
It was humiliating. Degrading. I felt I had let my grandmother down, and damaged the reputation of our ancestor, the great Sybill.
But it was survival, you see. I had no other way of earning a living. At the time of Dumbledore’s offer, I was living in a sordid little bed sit on the edge of one of the poorest Muggle towns. I was desperate, and so I wrote him a most earnest letter, imploring him to see me.
I knew of course, that Dumbledore, being the great wizard that he is, would probably see through me immediately - realise I was a fake. By then, however, I was down to my last few galleons, and I could no longer afford my pride.
We had arranged to meet in the Hog’s Head, a most squalid ale house where I was obliged, due to lack of funds, to stay. I couldn’t help feel, in a wave of self-pity, that this was my due. I was not worthy to be invited into the school, to have my interview in the Headmaster’s office. However, I pulled myself together, determined to persuade this great man that I could be of service to him.
I was under no illusion as our interview proceeded, that I was making any progress with the Headmaster. I could tell he felt uncomfortable in my presence as I related my ancestry and tried to impress upon him the importance of teaching Divination at the school. My heart sank, and I began to feel the desperation rising in me as I recognised, by the tilt of his head, the expression in his eyes, that he was about to turn me down. I told myself I must not fail…I must not. I fear my panic took me to the edge, and I came over rather faint…
And then we were interrupted.
A thin, unkempt young man had been apprehended at the door to our interview room. His features were sharp, his black hair hung limp and oily around his face and his black eyes missed nothing as they swept the room with a purpose, even as his collar remained tight in the fist of the inn keeper.
I remember the Headmaster’s face looking angry as he advanced on the young eavesdropper, and yet I could also detect an unease about him, a sorrow, a fear, as he surveyed the man before asking the inn keeper to throw him out. Dumbledore continued to look at the closed door - he appeared to be deep in thought. And then he turned to me, very suddenly, and offered me the job. Just like that.
It was a relief, I cannot deny. A job! Starting straight away. With board and lodging! Dumbledore even arranged to have my few possessions collected and delivered to the school. He walked me directly from the Hog’s Head and into Hogwarts, where I have been ever since. My haven near the clouds. I could not have asked for more.
But I couldn’t forget that young man at the door.
Sometime later when he came to the school as the new Potions master, I made a rare visit to the Great Hall, joining in on the feast just to satisfy my curiosity that it was the same person. His coldness disturbed me. He wore it like armour. There was something greatly amiss, but what, I could not tell. I returned to my tower, my mind clouded by thoughts of this man and cursing once again the absence of the sight.
There couldn’t be two people more unalike. I am concerned with the spiritual side of life. I consult the runes, my crystal ball, the tealeaves. I am not completely devoid of talent, although it deserts me for weeks, sometimes months at a time, and when I do see, I see feeble, insignificant things that bear no real consequence. Certainly nothing to help with this war against the Evil One.
He, on the other hand, could not be more grounded in the ways of the world. There is no dithering in his manner, no social niceties. He does not suffer fools, and alas, I am only too aware that is how he would see me - if he were ever to acknowledge my existence.
We even live at extreme ends of the castle.
And yet, in that first sight of him all those years ago, standing, apprehended in the doorway, I detected in him my own desperation, my own isolation. He was a kindred spirit in that he was an outcast, shunned from ordinary society for displaying the kind of behaviour misunderstood by most. Desperate to be accepted - but accepted for the kind of people we were, rather than having to mould ourselves to that which was considered ‘normal’.
I am sure the cold fury he exhibits is just as much a defence as the eccentricity I cultivate. We have to have some sort of armour, you see, or we would collapse inwardly with the pressure of having to conform, and the acknowledgement that we really are unable to do so.
And so, I have been watching him.
He is like an arrow, travelling straight towards his target. Nothing will distract him from his path. He is aware of what he has to do and he has every intention of succeeding.
I worry for him.
I have wandered the corridors of the school, shuffling the cards, desperately hoping those little episodes of enlightenment will bless me at this time - that what little talent I have in foreseeing the future will fill my very being and allow me to see what lies ahead for him.
I have seen only violence, conflict, and disaster marching ever closer. I have seen turmoil in the cards, and am forever turning over the lightening-struck tower.
I have been trying to warn the Headmaster, but he has had very little time for me lately. I cannot deny I am hurt by his constant dismissals. In the past he would at least have had the manners to listen.
And now it appears that Albus Dumbledore is dead. By his hand.
I cannot believe this is what the cards were trying to tell me. I cannot believe that even I could have misinterpreted the cards so dramatically.
I stand at the window of my tower, watching the dawn creep slowly into a day that will not include Albus Dumbledore, and a cold, numb fear grips my nerves as I wonder about that pushing, thrusting young man who stood in the doorway of the Hog’s Head.
I shuffle the cards as I scold myself. I am a fraud and a failure. I did not foresee this murder. I did not foresee his escape, or where he would run to.
My eyes blur with tears.
I did not foresee how much my heart would care.